Report of Stem Cells Derived from Human Skin

on July 31, 2010

BBC News: “Skin—the Key to Medical Cures?A news report touts the advantages and promise of stem cells derived from human skin.

The medical promise of adult stem cells seems to equal, if not exceed, that of embryonic stem cells

We’ve discussed the medical uses of adult stem cells before (e.g., last month), which—unlike embryonic stem cells—are not harvested in a process that destroys human life. Various forms of adult stem cells have been used in numerous successful therapies, showing that medicine can progress without the need for ethical compromise.

A recent BBC News story draws attention to stem cells derived from adult skin cells. “[T]here are great hopes for skin stem cells,” the BBC’s Jane Elliott says of the ongoing line of research, noting that “it is becoming clear that the skin might in the future hold the key to curing a range of conditions, from cancer to spinal cord repair.”

Among the scientists Elliott spoke with is Sheffield University tissue engineering expert Sheila MacNeil. “We could be [using stem cells] in five years time for diseases which are well understood—like Parkinson’s[—]and for other diseases where they are less well understood, 10 years,” she explained. MacNeil also emphasized that unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells face low risk of being rejected, since the patient who receives them is also the donor.

The medical promise of adult stem cells, including those derived from skin cells, seems to equal, if not exceed, that of embryonic stem cells—and avoids ethical compromise.

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